February 3, 2023

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7 ways to stay positive in the dark and cold winter

6 effective ways to keep up the energy and optimism in the dark and cold winter

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me lies an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus

“If we didn’t have winter, spring wouldn’t be so pleasant: if we didn’t sometimes taste adversity, prosperity wouldn’t be so welcome.”
Anne Bradstreet

Up here in Sweden winter is dark, cold and often comes with a mixture of rain and snow.

And spring is still far away.

It is not easy to keep up the energy and optimism like in the bright and warm summer days.

So today I want to share 7 habits I’m using that make it a lot easier to stay positive even during this dark and often gray time of year.

1. Find one of your biggest energy guzzlers.

Ask yourself: What is currently the biggest energy guzzler in my life?

For example, you may find that there is one person in your life who is very negative.

Or that report you’ve been trying to finish for a month is dragging you down.

Then you ask further:

What can I do against it?

Maybe you decide that you want to stop hanging out with this person. Or at least spend less time you have in a week with him or her and more time with the people who give you the most energy.

Perhaps you can just take 5 minutes today to start completing your report again.

For some energy guzzlers, there may not be an easy fix. Or any solution at all, at least at this point.

Then you might want to find one of the smaller leaks in your life that you can actually do something about.

Set aside a few minutes or a half hour of your day to plug just one of those biggest leaks, and you’ll have more energy for what really matters to you.

2. Be thankful for the little things and the things you sometimes take for granted.

When I look out the window at the dark and rainy landscape in the morning, it’s easy for me to forget what I actually have.

Things like:

A roof over your head and a warm home. Clean water. Three solid meals daily.

I’ve found that zooming out of my perspective helps a lot to come out of any sort of victim thinking and negativity.

3. Vitamin D Supplements.

I’ve been taking vitamin D supplements every day for the past few winters and I’ve found that they give back quite a bit of the energy I tend to lose during a long winter.

A few people close to me also take them and report similar positive effects to varying degrees.

4. First thing in the morning, go outside for 3-5 minutes.

This is my favorite new and daily habit in the last year or so.

I first heard about it from Andrew Huberman, a professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, on the popular Huberman Lab Podcast.

I’ve found that going out on our porch for 3-5 minutes in the morning right after sunrise – here in Sweden just around 9am – helps me really wake up and feels a lot more awake and energetic throughout my day .

When I’m out on the porch, I just stare at the sky and the view for a few minutes. And since my eyes are exposed to sunlight — even if it’s a cloudy day — several processes are activated in my body that help me be more awake during the day but also help me sleep better (according to Huberman’s podcast).

Personally, I haven’t noticed a huge difference in my sleep, but this has worked pretty well for me.

5. A light therapy lamp.

I’ve been using a light therapy lamp for a few winters and it’s had some pretty big effects (I have more energy and it makes it easier to maintain optimism).

This winter and last, I didn’t have a great need to use it because, as mentioned in the previous tip, getting out for my morning light had such a big and positive effect.

6th exercise.

An obvious one, but very effective.

Regular exercise — I lift weights twice a week and also do a brisk cardio routine twice a week — will give you more energy. It will help you release inner tension, anxiety and stress.

And so it becomes easier to stay relaxed and positive and think clearly without overthinking and acting decisively.

7. Take action and move forward.

Few things create as much frustration, worry, and anxiety as sitting on your hands and doing nothing.

While it may be a little harder to get started or move forward with your dreams and goals this season, remember that if you do, you will replace those feelings and thoughts with optimism and confidence.

And remember, you don’t have to go forward in big or fast leaps.

The important thing is simply that you move forward. Even if it’s just taking one small or slow step at a time.

Because these steps will quickly add up over the weeks, even if they may not look that impressive on their own.